Lord of the Rings Online: Class Revamps, Old Bugs, and Trait Trees, Oh My!

Was I in the Lord of the Rings Online beta?  No, I wasn’t.  But my account dates back to the ‘olden days’ of 2007, and LOTRO is the only MMO I have consistently returned to over the past six years.  Needless to say, a lot has changed.

 With the recent introduction of the Helm’s Deep expansion pack and my own reintroduction to the game, I was consistently astounded at the level at which Turbine had gutted and revamped old mechanics and classes.  Where once the loremaster was a crowd control class that I couldn’t find the drive to stick with past level ten, now there is a powerful spell caster who gets good pets at much earlier levels, and has even been graced with a new skill that summons all pets at once to attack the target.  Aptly called Sic ‘Em, Turbine has done exactly that with making LOTRO a force on the MMO market once again.

 As someone who prefers the ranged DPS of a hunter, I found myself surprised and at first a bit concerned by Turbine’s conversion to the use of trait trees.  As any veterans of LOTRO can attest, the old system was comprised of using the same skill a certain amount of times to gain the bonus that was associated with it.  If I used barbed arrow enough, I would eventually get a trait that would add bonus damage during the bleed time.  Especially with classes like hunters, it’s very easy to get into a groove of using only a handful of skills, thus neglecting the advancement of other skills that might prove useful later on in the game.  With the change to trait trees, this grind is a thing of the past.

 While other MMOs have done away with this seemingly archaic feature, Turbine’s approach allows for a much more streamlined gameplay experience.  If someone wanted to specialize in pet strengths on their loremaster, they were stuck in this kind of semi-healer-but-not-really-also-pet-buffs purgatory.  Now there is one of three trees to choose from, and becoming a beast master is completely feasible with no additional trying to cover other roles.  As a hunter, the three trees to choose from were reliant on choosing whether or not I wanted to focus on traps, mobility and damage, or staying stationary and dealing even more damage.  I focused on mobility and damage, and the freedom to kite from around the battlefield while the other person on my team tanks is wonderful.  In earlier times, unless a hunter could get off one shot skills that had no induction time, they could be kept rooted to the ground during critical moments in a battle.

 And unlike the grind of yesteryear, the player is awarded a point to spend on trait trees every other level.  The player is in complete control of their character’s development and play style, rather than having to painfully hobble between two roles.